Intergenerational epigenetic inheritance in models of developmental programming of adult disease

Denise S Fernandez-Twinn, Miguel Constância, Susan E Ozanne
Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology 2015, 43: 85-95
It is now well established that the environment to which we are exposed during fetal and neonatal life can have a long-term impact on our health. This has been termed the developmental origins of health and disease. Factors known to have such programming effects include intrauterine nutrient availability (determined by maternal nutrition and placental function), endocrine disruptors, toxins and infectious agents. Epigenetic processes have emerged as a key mechanism by which the early environment can permanently influence cell function and metabolism after multiple rounds of cell division. More recently it has been suggested that programmed effects can be observed beyond the first generation and that therefore epigenetic mechanisms could form the basis of transmission of phenotype from parent to child to grandchild and beyond. Here we review the evidence for such processes.

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